Center For Human Rights and Humanitarian Law
Case Nos. 1744, 1766, 1771, 1783 and 1793 (Uruguay)
Case 1744. June 29, 1973, reporting the death in prison, in an army barracks, of Mr. Luis Batalla, a trade union leader, age 32 years, and a militant of the so-called "Frente Amplio".
In a note dated February 15, 1973, the Government provided information on this case that had been requested by the CIDH in a note dated August 22, 1972.
The Commission examined case 1744 at its thirty-first session (April 1973) together with the information provided by the Government of Uruguay and decided to declare this case inadmissible, in accordance with Article 9 (bis) d of its Statute and Article 54 of its Rules of Procedure, without prejudice to requesting the Uruguay an Government to provide information on the result of the judicial action by the competent national authorities which at that time, were pending. This decision was communicated to the Government of Uruguay on June 11, 1973.
However, at the thirty-first session (October 1973), in view of new information presented by the complainants, the Commission decided to reopen its examination of the matter and to repeat to the Government concerned its request for the pertinent information. To this end, a note was sent on December 12, 1973. This request was again repeated on June 3, 1974, in accordance with the decision taken at the thirty-second session (April of that year).
The Government of Uruguay, through its Mission to the OAS, in a note dated September 9, 1974 (No. 340/74), replied to the above-mentioned request. The pertinent parts of that reply are transcribed below:
"The Military Investigating Judge of the Third Ward, Colonel Dr. Federico Silva. Ledesma, under whose Jurisdiction this case falls, in accordance with the legislation in force, has ordered various steps, including a hearing of the prosecutors, that are in present underway, among which mention must be made of the deposition of witnesses and medical reports and expertise for the purpose of clarifying and making effective, in accordance with the law, the responsibilities to which the public servants acting in this case may at any time have become liable.
"Also, it should be pointed out that the time involved by the follow-up of the measures ordered by the competent judicial authority and by the processing of the respective dossier, must be taken into account, bearing in mind the caseload of the Military Courts as a result of the subversive activity with which, as is well known, the Republic has been and is confronted."
The Commission continued its examination of Case 1744 at its thirty-fourth session (October 1974), together with the information provided by the Government of Uruguay, and decided to transmit the pertinent parts of that information to the complainants and to postpone its examination of the merits of the case. To that end, it wrote to the complainants on November 19, 1974.Case 1766, July 14 and 15, 1973, reporting the arbitrary arrest of General Liber Seregni, the establishment of stringent press censorship, and suppression of constitutional rights and public liberties in that country.
In a cablegram dated July 19, 1973, the Commission requested the Government of Uruguay to provide pertinent information, in accordance with Articles 42 and 44 of its Rules of Procedure, with respect to the arrest of General Liber Seregni. This request for information was repeated on December 12, 1973, and on June 3, 1974, in implementation of the decisions taken at the thirty-first and thirty-second sessions (October 1973 and April 1974, respectively).
The Government of Uruguay, through its Mission to the OAS, in a note dated September 9, 1974, supplied full information on the case, the pertinent parts of which are transcribed below:
(Former General, retired)
It should be pointed out in this regard that both the relatives and the defending attorneys of Mr. Seregni are in constant contact with the judge involved, Dr. Federico Silva Ledesma, to whom they have never made complaints about the health of the defendant.
Furthermore, Mr. Seregni receives medical care which is provided at all times by the medical and health services of the military unit in which he is detained.
There is no provision depriving any class of prisoners of medical care. On the contrary, this type of care is completely guaranteed by the competent services of the State, both in the various instances of the judicial proceedings and of imprisonment, and in the orbit of the Executive Branch, through the application of emergency security measures, including of course and obviously, the specific case mentioned, which must be referring to persons arrested for offenses against the fatherland (Criminal Code. Book II, Title I, Chapter I).
Any affirmation to the contrary is therefore inexact and completely false.
It should also be pointed out that, in the instant case, because of the gross character of the lie, there is obviously a deliberate attempt to mislead world opinion as part of the tendentious campaign mounted against my country in international agencies, using, as a supporting element, a malicious and equivocal interpretation of the Decree of the Executive Branch No. D.375/974 of May 14, 1974, which deprived "military and civil personnel whether serving or retired, and/or their relatives, who have been tried for antinational activities of the title of ‘associate’ of the military health services."
The above-mentioned personnel cease to be entitled to receive medical care from the military health services for which they contribute a monthly quota, in the above-mentioned case and as government officials. As prisoners, as am accused persons, as person convicted, their medical care is provided by the competent medical services of the State, according to the circumstances of the case. Once they are released, they may attend any medical service except the military health service from which they are excluded.
For their part, the complainants, in a letter dated July 18, 1974, received by the CIDH on 7 August, supplemented the report with information that the CIDH decided to transmit to the Uruguay Government so that, if that Government considered it appropriate, it would transmit to the Commission any other information additional to that supplied on September 9, 1974. Accordingly, in a note dated September 25, 1974, it transmitted to the above-mentioned Government the pertinent parts of the additional information provided by the complainants. A copy of this note was sent to the Mission of Uruguay to the OAS on September 27.
With this information to hand, the Commission continued its examination of case 1766 at its thirty-fourth session (October 1974) and appointed Dr. Gabino Fraga a rapporteur of the case.
In accordance with the recommendation of the rapporteur, the Commission decided to send a note to the Government of Uruguay, recommending that, if the information submitted to the CIDH were correct, it should endeavor to correct the conditions in which the former General, Liber Seregni, was allegedly detained, without prejudice to the security measures required by the normal conduct of the trial of that person, so that the right embodied in Article 25 of the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man could be respected.
In implementation of that decision, the Commission sent a note to the Government of Uruguay on December 18, 1974.Case 1771. July 30, 1973, reporting the arbitrary arrest of Mr. Juan Pablo Terra, a senator and President of the Christian Democratic Party, and of the trade union leader, José Luis Cogorno.
In a cablegram dated July 31, 1973, the Commission requested the Government of Uruguay to provide the pertinent information, in accordance with Articles 42 and 44 of its Rules of Procedure.
At the thirty-first session (October 1973), bearing in mind the fact that the period of 180 days, established in Article 51 of the Rules of Procedure during which the Government of Uruguay might supply the pertinent information, was still running, the Commission decided to postpone its examination of the case.
The Commission continued its examination of Case 1771 at its thirty-second session (April 1974) and appointed Dr. Gabino Fraga rapporteur so that he could make a report, including recommendations, bearing in mind the act that the Government of Uruguay had not replied to the request for information dated July 31, 1973, and that the period of 180 days established in Article 51 of the Rules of Procedure had already expired.
The rapporteur presented a report (doc.18-32) in accordance with whose recommendation the Commission decided, at the same session, to file the case without prejudice to reopening the examination of it, in view of the fact that the complainant had not provided any evidence proving that the arrest of the persons mentioned in the complaint had taken place in violation of human rights, in accordance with Article 39 d of the Rules of Procedure.Case 1783, October 2, 1973, reporting the arrest, torture and death of an Uruguayan student, Mr. Hugo Leonardo de los Santos Mendoza, which had allegedly occurred in a military barracks in Uruguay.
In a note dated December 12, 1973, the Commission requested the Government of Uruguay to provide the pertinent information, in accordance with Articles 42 and 44 of the Rules of Procedure.
At the thirty-second session (April 1974) the following decisions were taken: to send a note to the Government of Uruguay repeating the request for information of December 12, 1973 and requesting the complainant agency to supplement the report by sending a copy of the petition filed by the relatives of the victim with the Judge of the Department of de Rocha, who has jurisdiction over the case.
In implementation of these decisions, the Commission sent a note to the Government of Uruguay on June 3, 1974, and a letter to the complainants on April 24, 1974.
The Government of Uruguay, in a note dated September 9, 1973 (No. 339/74) replied to the request. The pertinent parts of this reply are transcribed below:
In accordance with its Rules of Procedure, the Commission transmitted to the complainants the pertinent parts of the information provided by the Government of Uruguay in its letter dated September 24, 1974.
The Commission examined Case 1783 at its thirty-fourth session (October 1974) and decided to postpone a decision on the merits of the case and to wait for the complainants, if they so desired, to make such comments as they deemed appropriate on the information provided by the Government of Uruguay.Case 1793, April 11, 1973, reporting tortures and harassment of various persons detained by military authorities in Uruguay. The complain includes a list of the persons arrested and imprisoned in the military hospital in Montevideo that had allegedly been victims of such tortures and mistreatment.
In a note dated December 12, 1973, the Commission asked the Government of Uruguay to provide the pertinent information, in accordance with Articles 42 and 44 of the Rules of Procedure.
At its thirty-second session (April 1974) the Commission examined this complaint, noting that the Uruguayan Government had not replied to its request for information. In view of the foregoing and on the bases of new information about the case, the Commission decided to appoint Dr. Genaro R. Carrió rapporteur and instructed him to prepare a report including such recommendations as he deemed appropriate.
In accordance with the report of the rapporteur, the Commission decided to repeat to the Government of Uruguay the request that it send the pertinent information and to transmit to that Government the pertinent parts of the new information mentioned above, including precise information about the cause or causes that led to the imprisonment in the military hospital of Montevideo of the persons mentioned in that additions information, whether with respect to those persons physical compulsion had been proved and whether, in such cases, the appropriate investigations had been opened; and extended the time limit established in Article 51 of the Rules of Procedure for 60 days to enable that Government to provide this information.
In implementation of this decision, the CIDH wrote to the Government of Uruguay on June 3, 1974. In a letter dated 5 June, the complainant was informed of the processing of the case.
The Government of Uruguay, in a note dated September 9, 1974, replied, providing the following information (the pertinent parts are transcribed):
The actual causes for such hospital admissions are the activities and confrontations the subversive and seditious elements had with the Armed Forces of the Republic during the state of internal war, during the course of which the sedition not only clearly demonstrated its complete disregard for the most elementary notions of the rights of the human person but also its lack of the most elementary vestiges of humanitarian feelings."
The Commission continued its examination of the case at its thirty-fourth session (October 1974) and decided: To again request the Government of Uruguay to provide more specific data on the matter mentioned in point 4 of its note of September 9, since, in the light of the reports and background data on the matter, the information supplied was not satisfactory.
In implementation of this decision, the Commission wrote to the above mentioned Government on December 18, 1974, and informed the complainant of this decision on November 19, 1974.